If you’re looking for easy hors d’oeuvres, the pros recommend rounding up a summery assortment of cow’s-, sheep’s- and goat’s-milk cheeses. Clockwise, from top right:
Grayson, a local favorite from Meadow Creek Dairy in Southwest Virginia, is a rich cow’s-milk cheese with a washed rind, rich yellow interior, fudgy texture and slightly beefy flavor.
Available at Bowers Fancy Dairy Products in Eastern Market; Dawson’s Market in Rockville; Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle; La Fromagerie in Alexandria; Stonyman Gourmet at the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market in Bethesda (and various farmers markets); Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op; and some Whole Foods Markets and Safeway stores.
Cabra La Mancha proves that a washed rind can work for a semi-soft goat’s-milk cheese. Made in Maryland by FireFly Farms, it can be paired with fresh fruit or membrillo paste for dessert, or melted atop burgers.
Available at Bowers Fancy Dairy Products; Glen’s Garden Market; some Whole Foods Markets and the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market.
Cayuga Blue, based on a classic Roquefort, is a crumbly cheese from Lively Run Goat Dairy in New York’s Finger Lakes region. It is made with tangy goat’s milk, giving it complex layers of flavor while still being surprisingly mild, and makes a great addition to a summer salad or even a fresh blue-cheese dip.
Best to order online at www.livelyrun.com.
Willoughby, a buttery, washed-rind cow’s-milk cheese with peachy undertones from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, is a perfect complement to fruity blush wines and funky farmhouse ales.
Available at Righteous Cheese in Union Market.
Verano is a pure sheep’s-milk cheese aged in the French-style cheese caves at Vermont Shepherd Creamery in Vermont; with rich notes of grass, mint and wild onion, this hard cheese stands up well to robust porters and chewy breads.
Also available at Righteous Cheese and Bowers Fancy Dairy Products.
Seneca Blue Moon, also from Lively Run Goat Dairy, is a mold-ripened blue-cheese hybrid of goat’s-milk chevre and the farm’s Cayuga Blue (see above); it is slightly sharp, with a creamy finish.
Also best to order online at www.livelyrun.com; Lively Run goat’s-milk cheeses are a favorite with cheese specialist Sophie Slesinger at Blue Duck Tavern, where you may be able to get a taste if she has it in stock.